The Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) from South America is a popular Christmas gift thanks to its round, reddish-orange fruits. The plant flowers during the summer and bears fruit over the Christmas season. It can reach 3 feet in height but is normally sold as a smaller plant about a foot high. The elliptical leaves are dark green and up to 3 inches long with wavy margins. The fruits of the Jerusalem cherry are toxic and can be fatal if swallowed. Jerusalem cherry is often treated as a throwaway annual but can be grown as a perennial.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Place your Jerusalem cherry on a bright or west facing window sill, ideally one that receives some direct sunshine every day. Rotate the pot by 180 degrees every week to make sure the plant receives even lighting. Do not allow the room temperature to rise above 21.1 degrees Celsius.
Mist your plant every day and keep the pot on a dish of wet gravel to maintain humidity levels. Water regularly as soon as the surface of the soil starts to dry out, aiming to moisten rather than soak it.
Fertilise your plant with a liquid fertiliser formulated for houseplants. Apply once a month during the spring and summer until the fruit are well developed.
Prune back your Jerusalem cherry once the Christmas period is over and the fruit have dropped. Remove up to two-thirds of the length of each stem.
Propagate your Jerusalem cherry from seeds collected from ripe berries. Sow the seeds onto regular potting compost. Transplant the seedlings into individual pots once they have two pairs of true leaves and are large enough to handle.
Tips and warnings
- Place your Jerusalem cherry plant outdoors during the warmest months of the year. Plant it in the garden inside its pot or place in a sunny location.
- Shake the plant well when it is in flower during the summer to ensure good fruit set.
- Jerusalem cherries are damaged by temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. This plant is vulnerable to insect infestation and must be monitored continually.
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